Author: Jennifer San Filippo Publication date: November 10, 2020 Genre: young adult fantasy My rating: 4/5 stars
Okay, hear me out: take the elemental powers of Avatar: The Last Airbender and fuel them with singing, rather than martial arts. That absolutely golden combination lies at the heart of the world Jennifer San Filippo has created in her debut novel, Divided Fire. A captivating tale of sisterhood, magic, and the meaning of strength, this book was a quick, refreshing read with a premise at once classic and original.
Authors: Danni Bennett and Jaida Jones Publication date: November 10, 2020 Genre: young adult fantasy My rating: 4.25/5 stars
It’s no secret that I love dark fantasy, morally gray characters, queer characters, thieves and other sketchy people, sarcastic humor, and ragtag teams of misfits. So it should come as no surprise that Master of One, a book that combines literally ALL of those elements, was a huge hit for me. I laughed. I cringed. My heart twisted a few times. What starts out as the story of an irreverent thief on a mission way above his pay grade morphs into a sprawling, slow-building tale of fae, magical silver animals, evil sorcerers, corrupt monarchy, and all that other fun stuff. I’ll admit, I was a little confused at the start, but once the story really got going, I was very invested, and I’m already dying for the sequel. (Plus, huge bonus–there’s some nice physical disability rep in the book as well!)
Author: Samantha Cohoe Publication date: October 13, 2020 Genre: young adult historical fantasy My rating: 4/5 stars
Psychologically unsettling, darkly magical, and patriarchy-smashing, A Golden Fury was a great debut novel. It’s a highly enjoyable, fast-paced read, with an intoxicating blend of darkness, madness, alchemy, history, betrayal, and loyalty–definitely a good way to get in the mood for fall.
Hey, y’all! I know, I know, two posts in one day–you’re getting double your dose of K-Specks content, I guess? This post isn’t a review, as I haven’t been able to read this book yet (law school is killing me, schedule-wise!) but TBR and Beyond Tours is hosting a tour for the title now, and I definitely wanted to highlight this powerful upcoming release about the aftermath of abuse and sexual assault.
Author: Hanna C. Howard Publication date: August 18, 2020 Genre: young adult fantasy My rating: 3/5 stars
Ignite the Sun is a quick, simple, straightforward YA fantasy that makes the whole light-versus-dark concept quite literal. Set in a world where the sun has been blocked from view by an enormous shield of darkness, the story follows a reluctant heroine on a quest to overthrow a corrupt leader and restore light to the world. Though certainly not a perfect book, and though it is a bit predictable (which isn’t quite my taste), this story is nevertheless a great choice for younger YA readers.
Author: KayLynn Flanders Publication date: July 21, 2020 Genre: young adult fantasy My rating: 4/5 stars
Familiar yet fresh, and filled with some of my favorite character-related tropes (including badass warrior princesses, royalty in disguise, and a “mutual pining” sort of romance), Shielded was an enjoyable read and a solid start to what promises to be an interesting new fantasy series.
Author: Megan McCafferty Publication date: July 28, 2020 Genre: young adult, (recent) historical fiction My rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Mall is a book that, I kid you not, made me nostalgic for a time period I didn’t even live through. I was born in the mid-90’s, and this book takes place in ’91, but this fun-filled romp through teenage drama and self-discovery resonated with truths that are still relevant today, while seasoning them with a distinct 90s flair that I couldn’t help enjoying. Was it cheesy? Sure. But it was the good kind of cheesy, the sort of fluffy read that is perfect for a summer day.
Author: Elizabeth Lim Series: The Blood of Stars, #2 (find my review of Book 1 here!) Publication date: July 7, 2020 Genre: young adult fantasy My rating: 3.5/5 stars
Spin the Dawn was one ofmy favorite books of last year, so I was beyond ecstatic when I was approved for the sequel on NetGalley. Unfortunately, while this was not necessarily a bad read, it pales in comparison to its predecessor, which made me a very disappointed K-Specks. Although still beautiful, Unravel the Dusklacked the same magic and emotional pull that made me so enamored of Spin the Dawn.
Author: Bethany C. Morrow Publication date: June 2, 2020 Genre: young adult, fantasy My rating: 3.5/5 stars
First, I want to make something abundantly clear: this is a tremendously important book. It deals with lots of major issues that the Black community is currently facing, and has been facing for a long time, and it uses a highly unique premise (some very literal Black Girl Magic) to convey those ideas. I feel like I need to stress that part because this was one of those books that I loved in theory, just not in execution. I don’t want this review to be taken as, “This book isn’t important.” I think it is a book that is very, very much worth reading. However, it would be disingenuous for me to rate it higher, because it faltered in its actual writing, on technical elements like worldbuilding and pacing.
Author: Omar Holmon Publication date: May 12, 2020 Genre: poetry My rating: 4/5 stars
In his quick, lively debut collection, poet Omar Holmon delivers a rollercoaster of emotions chronicling everything from the death of a parent to racism to love to the pride in being a nerd. This is a book that will make you laugh, but will also make you think, often in the same poem. It may not be hugely advertised, but this is a solid addition to Button Poetry’s catalog, as well as an excellent testament to the experiences of a Black nerd trying to navigate family and this complicated world we live in.